By Tara Porter. On Friday, we went on a bus tour of Soweto, a group of 77 suburbs outside of Johannesburg (Soweto stands for SOuth WEstern TOwnships). A woman named Cindy who has lived there for her whole life led the tour and taught us aobut Soweto’s history. We drove through the middle class areas and a lower class area called Kliptown in which there were very small houses made of various materials including concrete and metal. Random fact: almost everyone there has television but they have to use their car batteries in order to have enough energy to watch TV.
We stopped by the Hector Peterson memorial in Orlando West (one of the suburbs of Soweto) and learned about the protests of June 1976 to oppose the use of Afrikaans (the language of the white South Africans of Dutch descent) to teach school subjects no matter wheat the children’s mother language was. Students held peaceful marches and protests until a stray bullet from the police killed 13 year old Hector Peterson on his way to pick up his sister from school. After that, a lot of violence broke out as students threw stones at the police and the police continued to fire during June 16-18th of 1976. South African students now learn about these events as a part of their school curriculum. We also drove through the famous Vilakazi Street, which contains the current home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the former home of Mr. Nelson Mandela. We learned a lot more about Soweto, but this is a short summary of what we visited and learned.
It’s a lot of fun here, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of our stay here in South Africa. As I am writing this (Sunday Afternoon), we are driving to Pilanesburg for the safaris tomorrow!